Reactions in Israel to the threat by top Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state have been calm but firm. Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the Shas party said, “There is no need to get excited about it. It’s clear that the Palestinian side doesn’t want peace. While [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu is working hard to restart negotiations and achieve peace, the Palestinian Authority refuses to even recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said, “I’m concerned that some PA leaders still think that terrorism and threats will get them somewhere. I hope that world leaders will make it clear to them that the road to peace goes through talks.”
Minister Uzi Landau (Israel Our Home) took a tougher stance. “It is pure chutzpah of them,” he said. “This is a hostile announcement that is meant to deteriorate any chances that are left for talks. If they make good on this threat, we must immediately, with no hesitation, annex all of Area C,” referring to the area in Judea and Samaria that remains, according to the Oslo Agreements, under full Israeli military and administrative control.
Labor’s Agriculture Minister Shalom Simchon said, “We must all be concerned by this threat, which can lead to chaos that will never end.”
Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, a former Foreign Minister, said he’s not concerned: “It won’t lead to anything.”
Prof. Yechezkel Dror, a member of the Winograd Commission that investigated the Second Lebanon War of 2006, told Arutz-Sheva’s Hebrew newsmagazine that Israel must not attribute great importance to the threats. “Israel must respond in a measured manner, and not with threats. It must work to persuade the world that such a declaration is illegal and an impediment to peace.” He agreed with Minister Landau that if the PA makes good on its threat, Israel must respond by annexing territories.
Analysts say that the threat does not appear to be concrete at present, mainly because the amount of territory in PA hands is relatively small and does not include sea access.